Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Authenticity

I've noticed a trend in the blogging community lately to be authentic. To be honest. To be transparent. I've been thinking about this trend and reflecting on what I should take from it. (And then I watched "Jon & Kate Plus Eight" tonight and really made my decision about this one.)

Because I've thought about this before. The sharing more seriously and more honestly the details of my life. The admitting that my life and marriage aren't perfect and divulging all the dirty details of my struggles.

And the conclusion I've come to?

It's really none of your business.

Let me explain. I love you all dearly, and I appreciate your friendship and support. But I operate under the assumption that you realize that I am not perfect, and my life is not perfect. I don't think I have to give you details in order for you to understand that. What do I gain if you think me authentic? What do I gain from being serious with you in my blog entries?

Well, maybe you would respect me more. Maybe you would decide I was a more Christ-centered person if I discussed exactly where I am with my relationship with God with you. Maybe you would think I was more mature if I tell you what I have learned about communicating with my husband in the last two years.

Or, maybe you'd think the opposite of those things.

But that was never the point of this blog. This blog is written to document our story. The things we want to remember. And if Jack asked me to make the blog private? I'd do it in a heartbeat. Because, well, this might be hard to hear, but it's not about you. It's about me. About us.

Now, this isn't me saying I'm not being honest with you. It's not even me saying I won't share my struggles or serious stuff with you if I feel like it. I just don't want to be a part of the trend toward authenticity for the sake of being called authentic.

The other thing I have to consider (as does every other blogger who uses his or her name) is the amount of in real life friends and family that read my blog.

It is necessary to censor myself when people know who I am. I work for an international Christian radio program and volunteer for a kid's church program. That rules out any less-than-nice language. My parents, Jack's friends, and my boss all read this blog. That rules out any talk about my sex life. And that whole "submit to and respect your husband" thing really rules out any venting I have to do about the less-than-adorable things my husband does.

I'm not sure how other bloggers get past that, but I don't think I can. It's not worth getting fired over, it's not worth disrespecting my husband, and it's definitely not worth having to discuss sex with my parents.

So I will write about the good things. I will write about the funny things. And yes, I will definitely write about the embarrassing things.

But I will not dig down and find something juicy for my audience to read just because it might make me popular.

It's not worth that.

--

By the way, I wasn't targeting anybody with this post. If you actually want to share more with your blog's audience, go for it. (This post mostly came from my feelings about Jon & Kate's train wreck of a show after their marriage fell apart in front of millions of people and how poorly I feel they handled it.)

What do you think about this topic of authenticity in blogging? How do you balance your public blogging with your private life?

12 comments:

Jessica Latshaw said...

When I started blogging, I made a decision never to speak negatively about any individual in a public forum. I try not to write posts that are offensive to others. And I try to also be true to myself. Sometimes it is a great balancing act and sometimes I fail. It's tough because my blog is my outlet--a place for me to write and most if not all of my material comes from the feelings I get from my life. Which does include others.

But I do want to honor others with my words, so I try to do that. And no, I don't divulge everything. Why would I? I like to think about how Mary "pondered these things in her heart" after the angel told her she was with child and He was the messiah. She didn't run out and blurt it to the world; she certainly didn't blog about it, either. She kept it private. sacred. And I think that there are many aspects of our lives that are similar (though, I am not trying to say that any of us are gonna give birth to Jesus any time soon or anything!).

But you keep private what's private, Mandy. I absolutely respect that. Keeps our hearts, our beautifully fragile hearts, that much safer.

Sandy Hop said...

Amen, Mandy! I've read way too many posts about authenticity lately too. Frankly, I'm getting a little sick of the subject, but I agree- it really is none of their business. Besides, I am a positive person- I choose to focus on positive things in my life. I deal with the bad stuff, solve the problem, and move on. No reason to dredge it up and leave it out there for others to drag on.

Jacky said...

Mandy, I don't mind telling you that I needed this post this morning! Reading some of the authenticity posts I've seen lately have made me feel kind of guilty. "Should I be sharing every time something wrong/sinful happens in my life?" I want to be authentic in the fact that I share real things on my blog, not fake, made up stories. But I don't really feel like I need to share the intimate details of my life with the whole world wide web.

So thanks, Mandy. ;)

Rachel said...

I love what you wrote and I am totally on the same page NOW, which is why I stopped blogging for awhile. I needed some perspective. Thank you for boldly writing this post!

Happy Thanksgiving, friend!!!

The Silva's said...

Well said Mandy!!! I could not agree with you more!

Erin Sullivan Haynes said...

Great post, Mandy. Since I'm trying to talk about newlywed-ism in general, as well as chronicling our lives for friends, family, and self, I've thought about this subject when considering broaching some more "touchy" newlywed topics. Think, dealing with arguments and differences, etc.
I've wanted to blog about these things in general terms, but I'm not really interested in dishing on the dirty details of my personal arguments and problems, out of respect for my husband and because some things should just remain private -- not because they're embarrassing, but because there are parts of marriage (good and bad) that are just between you and your husband. It's the little things just between you two that build on that intimacy and unique relationship of marriage.

Mrs.LifeAccounts said...

I choose to keep the hubs and my identities more private (though the information is out there if people want to dig), if people that already knew us were to stumble across our blogs, they'd easily figure out it was us, but if someone who knew us were to google us, it'd take a lot more effort to find us. Because I blog this way and because I have choosen not to tell any friends or family other than my husband, what my blog address is, I can be more open about what I blog about.

I would never write something that I wouldn't feel comfortable having printed in the newspaper, but since I know my parents, siblings or friends aren't tuning in and reading on a daily basis, I am comfortable with the fact that, if they should find it, I wouldn't be embarressed about it because I didn't write it with the intentions of them reading it. I'm fine them stumbling across it and reading it but if I knew they were reading from the get-go, I'd write differently, more for their sake then my own. There are some things your family just doesn't want to read. :)

When I'm dealing with a sticky situation that I want to write/vent about, I generalize and certainly never mention any specific names, name dropping doesn't help anything, just makes it worse. As for stuff between the hubs and I, well, I always try to make sure that I'm honoring him with my actions and words. I don't view it as an act of submission but rather one of respect. Just as I would treat any other individual. I may express frustration with things that are going on or not going on, but I focus more on where I am struggling rather than what he is doing wrong, it is after all my blog (does that sound self-centred? it wasn't meant to be). Some posts aren't meant for anyone else but me, some posts are meant for my husband to stumble across and find and some are meant for people who I enjoy interating with in the blogging community. Together that all sort of encompasses my blog.

Mandy and Jack said...

That sounds like a good balance Mrs.LA, and I would certainly be blogging differently had I not shared my URL with everyone and their dog before I really started getting into blogging. Admittedly, there are times that I wish people I know in real life didn't read my blog. Like Jessica, this is my outlet and there is much I must hold back when I write to an audience.

But time and time again, I've considered the pros and cons of blogging and/or making my blog private, and I can't come up with enough reasons to stop (unless Jack asks me to). So I will continue. :)

Good points, everyone. Thanks for the insight!

Shop with Me Mama said...

Great post! LOL! You are right, it is none of our business :)

gitz said...

I'm so with you on this. I hold very little back in my blog, but it's because of the relationship I feel like I have with the readers. And it's because I've never really held anything back in my real life either.

But there are things about hurts done to me I'll never discuss because it would hurt people I love. There are sad stories I could tell that others may not want heard. And, as honest as I am, things with my health and daily living are often worse than I say, but sometimes it's too hard for me to have to write it out, and still maintain my joy.

It's just about finding your own level of respect for yourself and others. You can be authentic and transparent in what you do say without saying everything.

Shelby said...

I love this post! Love it, love it, love it!

VacaSanto said...

...so what about your sex life prompted this and what can your mother and I do to resolve it for you? Do you need me to build a spinning table or something for you (I have a shop, you know)...